Standing in their way will be the UConn Huskies, who enter the contest with a record of 5-6 and are looking to become bowl-eligible with a road victory over the Bearcats.
This matchup will be a battle of two teams that both employ two-quarterback systems. With Zach Collaros out of the equation, the Bearcats have turned to Munchie Legaux and Jordan Luallen to run an offense littered with talented offensive skills players. Legaux has started the last two games for Cincinnati and is the more experienced of the two signal-callers. Meanwhile, Luallen provided a pleasant spark off of the bench in his first game of extended action last week, rushing for 77 yards on just eight carries.
The Huskies will counter with the two-headed attack of Johnny McEntee and Scott McCummings. McEntee is considered to be the regular, passing quarterback, while McCummings is usually implemented as a supplemental running threat.
While each team will present unique challenges with their two-quarterback systems, the biggest battle on Saturday will be between the Cincinnati running game and the UConn rushing defense.
Bearcat running back Isaiah Pead currently leads the Big East in touchdowns (14) and is averaging an impressive 5.6 yards per carry. As a team, Cincinnati leads the conference in yards per carry (4.8) and rushing touchdowns (26), and ranks second in rushing yards per game (181.6).
Pead accounted for 192 total yards of offense and two scores last week, and you can be assured that the Bearcats will make it a priority to get the ball in his hands against a Huskie defense that ranks first in the Big East in rushing defense, allowing their opponents less than 85 yards per game on the ground.
This game will also pit the two teams that lead the conference in turnover margin. While each team has had their share of problems on the defensive side of the ball in 2011, they have been able to force timely turnovers to stop drives, and have also excelled at taking care of the football on offense.
On paper, there is no doubt that Cincinnati is the more talented team, especially at the skill positions. Look for the combination of Pead and Luallen to give the UConn defense fits when the Bearcats have the ball. Cincinnati's defense will focus the majority of their attention on stopping UConn's freshman running back sensation, Lyle McCombs, who currently leads the league in rushing. When forcing the Huskies into passing situations, the Bearcats will able to unleash a very productive pass rush on McEntee. It may not be the prettiest of games, but Cincinnati should be able to come away with the win, earning their third Big East Title in four years.